New cycling plan: The little queen in the spotlight in Angers

In the wake of an exceptional mobilization for the climate, the government unveils its national plan dedicated to the promotion of bicycle use (see below the Prime Minister's speech). For the associations of the Climate Action Network (FNH, FNE, WWF, FUB, FNAUT, Greenpeace, etc.), this is a step forward, but the means released are not equal to the ambitions and must be revised upwards by the government between now and the 2019 finance bill. Businesses and communities also have a role to play.
Poday, France ranks 25th in the European Union in terms of bicycle use in cities: only 2% of home-to-work journeys are made by bicycle and 58% of people living less than one kilometre from work travel by car, whereas it would take about five minutes by bicycle. (Source: Study Insee 2017). We are far behind our neighbours: almost a quarter of the Danes and a third of the Dutch travel by bike. Their governments have for years invested an average of €4 per inhabitant per year in cycling.
"Walking, cycling and other forms of active mobility are still the poor cousins of public policy, notes the Infrastructure Policy Council (IOC), which advises the government.
This Friday 14 September, the government will unveil 25 new measures in Angers with the aim of tripling the share of bicycles in daily travel by 2024. A plan of 350 million euros over seven years with the creation of a bicycle allowance paid by the company (without obligation), the construction of new infrastructures such as bridges or tunnels at motorway interchanges or bypasses to ensure the continuity of cycle paths, the construction of secure bicycle garages in all stations where this will be possible, or even spaces reserved for bicycles between traffic lights and a line where cars must stop, the registration of all new or second-hand bicycles to combat theft, learning from primary school onwards so that every pupil entering sixth grade is independent on a bicycle, .…
But what about assistance to individuals for the purchase of a bicycle? The plan promises measures to support the purchase of electrically-assisted bicycles and to help companies to deploy fleets of bicycles, without specifying the contours of these measures. For their part, the NGO partners of the RAC are campaigning for the reintroduction of an "incentive" bonus for the purchase of an electric-assisted bicycle.

Long awaited recognition

The Climate Action Network is delighted that this economical, ecological and healthy daily mode of travel is finally being recognized as a mobility solution in its own right to reduce urban congestion, improve air quality and quality of life! Combined with public transport, it boosts the economic vitality and solidarity of our territories and meets the expectations of the French who, at 83%, are in favour of increasing the place given to cycling in cities (IFOP/WWF survey, July 2018).

Only 50M€ per year for 7 years, instead of 200M€/year...

France is lagging far behind, which required a real financial catch-up in order to initiate change.
For the past year, associations of elected officials and users have provided reliable and justified estimates of the financial needs to initiate a change of scale. The associations recommend the creation of a fund of 200 million euros per year as of 2019 to co-finance major cycling infrastructure. The Infrastructure Policy Council (COI) had come closer to the expectations of the Climate Action Network by setting as a priority the creation of a 350 million euro cycling envelope for four years.
The Prime Minister today announced a fund of €350 million over seven years. This national plan, with a multi-year budget, is unprecedented in its infrastructure component. But it is not intended to make up for France's backwardness. 50 million per year for seven years, or €0.7 per inhabitant per year, which is four times less than the real annual needs to catch up, and half as much as the IOC's recommendations.
The associations of the Climate Action Network are also calling on local authorities and companies to take their share of responsibility for developing cycling.
The bicycle mileage allowance, a measure that reimburses commuting trips made by bicycle, is becoming the sustainable mobility lump sum (200 euros / year tax-free in the public sector and 400 euros in the private sector) and is widespread in the public sector, but unfortunately still not systematic in the private sector.
At this stage, the re-launch of a real bonus on the purchase of an electrically assisted bicycle and the planning of more than 200,000 bicycle parking spaces in stations are still missing.
The environmental NGOs call on employers' bodies, such as MEDEF, to take their share of responsibility in the ecological transition: by making the bicycle allowance accessible to all in companies, through a sustainable mobility package made compulsory, and no longer optional as currently planned, and a real incentive, i.e. up to €35 per employee per month.
At the same time, communities must join the dynamic initiated by cities such as Strasbourg, Grenoble or Bordeaux. which have already allocated substantial funding in this area.

Greener mobility solutions remain the poor relation of the investment plan

Taken together, the spending announced by the government this week as part of the transport investment plan for alternatives to road transport (rail freight) and the private car (carpooling, public transport, trains, etc.) will not make it possible to sustainably and rapidly reverse the upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions from transport.
At less than 5% (1.2 billion over 10 years out of a total of 27.7 billion) of the investment plan, financing for own and shared mobility remains derisory compared to the needs and planned expenditure on the road network and the private car.
Yet road transport benefits from a diesel tax refund of more than EUR 1 billion a year, despite its considerable impact on air pollution, climate, infrastructure, congestion, etc., to the detriment of more environmentally friendly alternatives. Finally, the maintenance of road projects (Rouen, Strasbourg, etc.) heralds an environmental and financial mess that there is still time to put an end to ...
Despite the speeches and the commitment of the President of the Republic, the priority is not yet that of everyday ecological transport. Why is this?

The brakes on bicycle use in France

The main obstacle to the use of bicycles is urban planning that is not very favourable to their use. Even in a city with ecological ambitions such as Paris, cycle paths do not cover all the roads and offer neither the traffic comfort nor the necessary safety for cyclists.
By expressing political will and implementing actions in this direction, the share of cycling in transport will stop deteriorating. The city of Strasbourg has thus seen an increase in the number of bicycle journeys, which now represents 15% of journeys. However, the resistance of motorisation should not come as a surprise. Faced with the price of housing in large cities, working people often live on the outskirts, several kilometres from their place of work. Cycling is convenient for journeys of less than 5 km, but it is difficult to get to work by car when the journey is 35 km.
Another reason is the lack of dedicated bicycle storage facilities in urban and peri-urban areas. Not forgetting the fear of theft and the difficulty in reconciling cycling and the weather.
Although bicycles are beneficial for health and society, they are the only means of transport that does not incur any expenses. By encouraging employees to use this agile mode of transportation, some companies have seen a decrease in delays and sick leave.
For Olivier Schneider, President of the French Federation of Bicycle Users, ". People feel unsafe on the bike". It is based on a survey published in December 2017, during the "Assises de la mobilité": 90 % of respondents who leave their mounts in the garage do so out of fear of an accident, far ahead of the supposed fatigue of a journey, the idea of braving bad weather or having it stolen. Although 150 cyclists die each year in France, they are presumed responsible, according to the police, in 43 % of the cases. Responsible?! Yes but, according to the associations, it comes from the problem of inadequate infrastructures. If we take the example of bicycle paths, they are rarely "protected", i.e. circumscribed with open spaces, very few are continuous, straight and without gutters. The law on air and the rational use of energy should theoretically improve the daily life of cyclists. In essence, it states that any renovation of urban roads must include independent cycle paths, road markings and lanes. But, in reality, "it is not applied, because it is not understood by communities. The mayors prefer to pay a fine of 2,000 euros, declaring that "it is not applied because it is not understood by local authorities. 'Where I come from, nobody rides bikes, there's no need for tracks.' But if there aren't, you don't ride a bike! » (Source : L'


France is on its third cycling plan in six years (2012 and 2014). This new government plan aims to increase the proportion of trips made by bicycle to 9 % by 2024, to exceed the European average of 7 %. The cycling plan is part of a wider project, with the future Mobility Orientation Act (LOM), which is due to be presented in October, before going before Parliament next year.
(Source: Climate Action Network)
To go further:
Address by Mr Édouard PHILIPPE, Prime Minister - Presentation of the "Bicycle Plan" Angers Friday 14 September 2018
Check against delivery
Mr. Minister of State, dear François,
Minister, dear Elizabeth,
Mr. Mayor, dear Christophe,
Ladies and gentlemen of the elected officials,
Dear friends,
When you're a child, you often hear that "you can't forget your bike". That's true on an individual level. It's a little less true for our country, which has a paradoxical relationship with cycling, to say the least. First of all, we invented it, or at least its ancestor, the velocipede. Secondly, France is a great cycling nation: I was able to see that once again this summer when I attended a stage of the Tour de France.
However, in France, cycling is still a sport. A popular sport, very widespread. But a sport and too rarely a means of transport to go shopping or to work, as is the case in Northern European countries, which are less passionate about cycling than we are.
Sometimes things are obvious and implacably obvious. Such as, for example, talking about the "cycling plan" here in Angers, with Ministers François DE RUGY and Elisabeth BORNE. First of all, I received a wonderful welcome when I came here on 27 October 2017 for the World Electronic Forum. And I was therefore delighted at the idea of returning there.
Above all, he is the President of the Agence de Financement des Infrastructures de Transport de France (AFITF) and, as such, one of the main players in our country's mobility policy. Which is a polite way of saying that he is the one who holds the purse strings. The Angevins are also "cycling champions". Collectively I hear and if I believe the barometer of the French Federation of Bicycle Users, which has ranked the city of Angers 3rd among cities where it is good to ride a bike. Finally, Angers is home to the headquarters of an important agency, ADEME. So all I had to do was comply.
On September 19, 2017, I had the pleasure of opening the national conference on mobility. This conference was a laboratory of ideas. One of the big winners, to the applause of the conference, was without a doubt the bicycle: 113,000 responses to the survey launched by the federation of bicycle users; 207 parliamentarians who co-signed a platform last April to support an "ambitious bicycle plan", this shows the strong commitment of the national representation for ecology and for the bicycle, and I am thinking in particular of Matthieu Orphelin, because this is his home, because he has been a force for proposal and has greatly encouraged the government to be ambitious on this subject; and the hundreds of postcards that French people have sent us, including myself - I thank them for that - calling for a cycling plan that meets their expectations.
You can be 150 years old and meet very powerful, very current needs, both individually and collectively.
Need for time, need for flexibility, need for accessibility for the French who want to be able to move quickly, well, that is to say safely, at the best cost, and without depending on possible traffic jams.
The need for sobriety, particularly in terms of carbon, the need for attractiveness in city centres and the need for mobility solutions that are both practical and economical.
Cycling is therefore a solution to real everyday problems and real social issues. And a very concrete way to participate in the country's ecological transition. But to achieve this, you have to get organised. Organizing to remove, if you'll pardon the expression, a certain number of "roadblocks" that prevent or discourage cyclists from moving freely.
Indeed, the finding is indisputable: the proportion of journeys by bicycle in France is particularly low. Cycling accounts for 3% of daily journeys, i.e. half the European average.
Hence this ambitious plan. A plan that will triple the proportion of our daily commuting by bicycle - from 3% today to 9% in 2024, the year we host the Games. A plan that is organized around 4 main axes and of which I would now like to say a few words.
First of all, I would like to say that safety on the roads is a priority for me. Everyone should be able to ride a bike without feeling that they are putting themselves in danger. Despite an improving overall figure, August 2018 was the deadliest month for cyclists in the last five years. I refuse to accept any fatality and I want the increase in cycling to go hand in hand with increased safety measures.
The first axis is therefore that of safety, with 2 main levers.
The first lever is that of "bicycle paths":
Everyone knows that the construction of cycle paths is the responsibility and competence of cities and conurbations. And the State is obviously not intended to replace them.
On the other hand, it can play a role of impulse and accompaniment. The "Cycling Plan" provides for the following:
The creation of a national "active mobility" fund that we will endow with 350 million euros to support projects to create cycle routes in communities over a period of 7 years. This fund will be integrated into the AFITF's multi-year trajectory.
This fund will primarily target route disruptions caused by major infrastructure, particularly state infrastructure. Ruptures that discourage cyclists because they are very dangerous.
We will launch the first calls for projects in 2019 to identify, together with the local authorities that need to use this tool, the precise places where we should intervene as a priority.
As of today, ADEME is preparing to launch a call for projects to help local authorities that feel the need to define their networks and their cycling policy, so that this dynamic benefits all territories;
This is the first time that the State has mobilised so much to finance cycling infrastructure.
The second lever we're going to use is the traffic law. A code which, from the outset, was designed primarily around the car. The idea now is to adapt it to other forms of mobility, in particular the bicycle, so that cyclists are safer. Two examples of these adaptations:
From the beginning of 2019, we will systematically provide bike locks upstream of traffic lights in built-up areas to improve visibility, particularly for heavy goods vehicles. In the medium term, all existing roadways will be brought into line with the new regulations;
Wherever technically possible, we will extend two-way cycling to 50 km/h lanes in built-up areas.
The second axis of this "bike plan": the fight against theft. In France, 300,000 homes are victims of bicycle theft every year. Hence two main initiatives:
Firstly, we want to develop the development of secure bicycle parking close to places where people travel every day. In existing buildings (homes, businesses, shopping centres), bicycle parking spaces will have to be built during all works. In stations, we will ask the SNCF to adopt a clear schedule for the construction of these car parks;
We are then going to make systematic the marking of bicycles by salespeople: thanks to the industry's involvement, each bicycle will have a unique identifier that cannot be falsified. A marked bike is a bike that is returned when it is found by the police; it is also the possibility of more easily dismantling concealment networks. The idea is that, in the long term, unmarked bikes will no longer find buyers. We will defend this "anti-theft" strategy at European level to further increase its effectiveness.
Third axis: create a favourable framework for recognising the bicycle as a mode of transport in its own right, particularly for "home-to-work" journeys. The role of the employer is major here. The bicycle plan thus provides for two particularly structuring measures:
The first is to create a "sustainable mobility package".
Private and public employers will be able to contribute up to 400 euros tax and social security free to the home-to-work travel expenses of their employees or agents by bicycle. This lump sum will replace the bicycle kilometre allowance, which is too complex to implement, and will have a ceiling twice as high.
And as I am keen for the State to set an example when it comes to ecological transition, we will apply a flat rate of 200 euros to all employees of its administrations and operators who come to work by bicycle.
Second measurement :
We are going to introduce bicycles into the tax mileage scale that is used to reimburse the costs of trips that employees make on a professional basis with their personal vehicle.
Again, this is essentially an administrative simplification measure, but also an important measure to put the bicycle on the same level as the car or motorised two-wheelers.
Fourth and last axis: spreading the culture of cycling in society, facilitating the recognition of this mode of transport. And this at all ages:
Children, when they are at school: by 2022, we will generalize the "Know how to ride" system that already exists in some academies, which consists of ensuring that children entering the sixth grade know how to ride a bike independently and safely.
Adults, using their smartphone to plan their trips: we will open up the data for rental services so that all travel information services will include bike offers. This will allow us to know in real time whether self-service bikes are available (with or without a docking station as here in Angers). We will also enable mobility organising authorities to make the best use of the emerging offers of self-service bicycles without a docking station, free-floating, to use the right jargon: what works here in Angers must be able to work elsewhere, which is why tomorrow these organising authorities will be able to impose specifications on free-floating operators to ensure that they comply with certain quality criteria, without hindering their entry into the market.
It was Jean Bobet, Louison Bobet's younger brother, and himself a former racing cyclist, who once said: "Cycling is the means and perhaps the art of extracting pleasure from a constraint". The constraint today is that of global warming. That of the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. That of air quality in cities. Stress.
The cycling plan is one way among others to adapt to it, which does not prevent, on the contrary, a real pleasure, a real well-being in our cities and our countryside. After all, in a society that is a bit addicted to speed, it is sometimes good to know how to "freewheel".

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